Small engine repair is a trade that is always in demand and it is also a skill that applies to numerous machines. Small engines are used to power motorcycles, motorboats, lawnmowers, lawn equipment and other types of outdoor equipment. The ability to fix these various types of small engines can lead to a productive and long-lasting career. It is also a career with a positive employment outlook for the future, which can lead to job stability for years to come.
Small Engine Repair Education
Small engine repair education courses and curriculums are offered at a variety of post-secondary institutions. There are also online classes that teach the essentials of small engine repair. There is more than one option for those looking to pursue an education in small engine repair. The first option is to earn a certificate from an accredited post-secondary institution.
A certificate of completion denotes that a graduate has acquired all the necessary training to enter the working field as a small engine repair mechanic. The duration of a certificate program differs according to each institution and there are standards that are also specific to each curriculum.
The second option is to earn an Associate Degree from a community college. This program typically lasts two years and is accompanied by an array of core classes. It is more common to find a post-secondary program that offers a certificate in small engine repair as there are limited institutions that provide an Associate Degree in this discipline. However, there are Powersports Technician programs as well as motorcycle repair programs that deal with more specific concepts in relation certain types of small engines. Individuals looking for a broader education in small engine repair can choose from a variety of certificate programs throughout the country.
There are also numerous small engine repair courses offered at colleges and technical institutes. These courses focus on fixing all types of small engines, including two-stroke, three-stroke and four-stroke engines. There are also high school technical programs that offer small engine repair classes, which serves as an excellent starting point for those looking to venture into the professional world as a small engine mechanic. Some of the fundamentals learned during small engine repair education are as follows:
- Small gas engine principles
- Two-stroke engine repair
- Four-stroke engine repair
- Safety and tools
- Lawnmower and snowblower repair
- Ignition system essentials
- Engine performance fundamentals
Some colleges and technical schools offer small engine repair as part of their Auto Mechanic Education programs. This generally features courses that provide an introduction to small engine repair and then expand on that foundation with more detailed instruction. Within these courses, students will learn engine repair on marine motors, ATVs, lawnmowers, snow blowers and other machines powered by small engines. Technical schools, vocational programs and two-year colleges are the most popular educational settings for those interested in small engine repair.
SMALL ENGINE CERTIFICATION
There is no mandatory law that requires small engine mechanics to be certified by one specific organization. However, there are options for those who are seeking out certification. The Equipment & Engine Training Council (EETC) is the most recognized name when it comes to small engine repair certifications.
There are various EETC certifications in different areas of small engine repair. Those include two, three, and four-stroke engine repair certifications. There are different repair procedures for each of those types of small engines and to earn a certification, a mechanic must display an above-level knowledge of that discipline. Certifications can be used to bolster a mechanic’s credentials and improve the chances of obtaining employment. They may also be useful when negotiating a higher pay rate.
Post-secondary small engine repair certificates are not the same as an EETC certification. However, each one can serve as its own form of job qualification. The EETC has made it easier for mechanics to earn a four-stroke certification as it now offers non-proctored tests. This has been done to compensate for the shortage of small engine mechanics.
Small engine repair does not encompass one small area, which means there are a variety of businesses looking to employ small engine mechanics. Businesses that sell and repair power equipment employ small engine mechanics and their work duties include repairing types of equipment powered by small engines. This may include the repair and service of lawnmowers, snowblowers, garden tractors, hedge trimmers and more. Powersports businesses and marine service shops also need small engine mechanics. Motorcycle repair is also defined as a type of small engine repair. Regardless of the specific work environment, small engine repair involves the following:
- Regular engine maintenance
- Spark plug replacement
- Engine inspection
- Parts replacement
- Disassemble engines
- Installation of new parts
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has a specific distinction for small engine mechanics. This includes mechanics who work in the service and repair of power equipment and that also applies to powerboats and motorcycles. The BLS reports the average annual salary of a small engine mechanic at $37, 060 or roughly $18 per hour. However, there is the potential to earn an annual salary that greatly exceeds that average.
The BLS reported that the top 10 percent of small engine mechanics earn an annual salary of $59,060. There are various factors contributing to higher pay rates and they include experience, location and place of employment. The statistics provided by the BLS also show that small engine mechanics who specialize in servicing motorboats earn the highest annual salary at $40,180. That is followed by motorcycle mechanics, who average a yearly salary of $36,790 and that is followed by those who work on outdoor power equipment as that yearly amount is $35,400.
There are also differences in small engine repair pay rates by state. Some states have a much higher annual salary rate, as per figures reported by the BLS. Here is a look at the five highest paying states for small engine mechanics in the area of outdoor power equipment:
- Hawaii - $48,610
- Connecticut - $48,540
- New Jersey - $44,800
- Alaska - $43,510
- Massachusetts - $43,090
Most small engine mechanics are employed on a full-time basis and while there is work to be found all year long, the busiest times are during the summer months. That has to do with the heightened use of outdoor power equipment, boats and motorcycles when the weather is warmer. Those living in warmer climates are likely to find steadier work throughout the year. Meanwhile, small engine repair in southern states maintains a similar volume of business all year around.
There are favorable projections for the future careers of small engine mechanics. The BLS projects a 5 percent overall growth in small engine repair jobs between 2016 and 2026. The largest projected demographic is for mechanics who repair outdoor power equipment. There is projected growth for motorcycle mechanics and powerboat mechanics, although it is not as notable However, the promising news as there appears to be no drop-off as small engine repair specialists will be in demand for the following decade.
When it comes the setting for small repair mechanic jobs, it is generally expected to be relegated to the same environment. Power equipment repair shops, marine service centers, motorcycle repair shops, power equipment dealers and powersports service centers are expected to continue to be the primary place of employment for small engine mechanics.
Most entry-level jobs require a limited amount of experience, although the more sought-after small engine repair positions seek out candidates who have advanced further in their careers. That is acquired through experience and advanced training. The advent of technology has led to continual upgrades to outdoor power equipment. The integration of technology requires mechanic to learn the nuances of all those changes.
Over the course of a year, there are numerous seminars and workshops on small engine repair. There are also small engine repair conferences. Vocational schools and community colleges occasionally host these types of events. There are no formal degrees offered to small engine mechanics at advanced levels like there are for auto mechanics looking to earn master technician status.
There are, however, motorcycle repair programs that specialize in the service and repair of a specific brand of motorcycles. Small engine repair mechanics can earn these individual specializations by enrolling in programs that teach these disciplines. There are various motorcycle mechanic training programs that offer this type of education throughout the country.